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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Triple Dipping for the Kurd Issue

posted by Jazz at 11/27/2004 07:11:00 PM

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While cross-cross posting is likely crass, in the previous entry we were talking about the place of the Kurds in the current Iraq mix, and there is a post by Ron at MEJ from back in June that needs to be added in. This one covers a point which I sadly neglected - specifically that we have been using the Kurds for a long time, but that might not last. Ron's post covers a piece by Joseph Stroupe about the Kurds being the forgotten force in Iraq.

Hence, the regional political, diplomatic and even military mobilization of Kurdish forces, in an attempt to secure its own interests as the June 30 date for the handover of sovereignty to Iraq nears, appears to be under way. In verification of that fact, on June 7, Masoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan threatened to pull out of the interim government unless the new United Nations Security Council resolution guarantees Kurdish autonomy and a veto over the direction of the interim government as promised in the draft interim constitution, which was very reluctantly signed by the Shi'ite representatives, but which is something the Shi'ite majority refuses to accept under any circumstances.

The Kurds are, from what I've seen, the most motivated, powerful, cohesive force in Iraq. At the moment, America is acting in what they could view as their best interests given current circumstances. If we suddenly move in a new direction that seems to be an obstacle to a free, independent Kurdistan, I wouldn't want to be the one standing in their way. The Kurds, when seen as an enemy, could easily make the current crop of "insurgents" look like the cabbage patch kids. Ron recognized this early on, and our military planners would do well to pay attention. If you don't want to support the establishment of Kurdistan, at the very least we should not look like we're standing in the way of it. Reason number 1,257,349 for us to get the fuck out of Iraq, and to do so NOW.

Meet the Kurds

posted by Jazz at 11/27/2004 10:57:00 AM

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We spend a lot of time talking about the Sunni and the Shiites, but less attention these days seems to be paid to the Kurds. There are a couple of entries available from some interesting Kurdish voices that I'd like to share.

The first is from a member of the Peshmerga Women's Force. You may already be familiar with the Peshmerga - the Kurdish military group who's name means "the men who face death" - but they apparently have a female counterpart. One such fighter has gotten access to a blog. In her introductory post she offers a few words about who they are, and a photo.

Who are the Peshmerga Women's Fighting Forces? No one knows their number, or where they are located any given moment. They are part of the Peshmerga, the men that face death. They are fierce and deadly, but loyal to the core. They are the nightmare of the Tyrants in Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq and every other location that would seek to oppress Kurds. They are widows, orphans, and independent women that are willing to face death to ensure freedom. They are the dictators and despots worst nightmare. If you are reading this and that scares you...it should!!

Long Live Kurdistan!

You never know how long such things will last online, so I've highjacked the photo to preserve it here. (Click on image for full size picture.) I don't know why, but this is one of the more frightening things I've seen in a long time. I don't care if you are an American, a Brit, a Sunni or a Shiite. I wouldn't want to run into this group on some desolate mountain.




She also has a follow-up post, rather long, in which she talks about the goals of the Kurds and why they want displaced Kurds from all over the world to return. It's not to vote in some American built election and create a unified Iraq. In keeping with what many analysts have said of the Kurds, they are looking to use any means possible - economic, political, and if needed, military - to forge their own nation and defend themselves from Syria, Turkey, Iraq, or any other threat. Yes, she is already referring to their people as residents of "Kurdistan" and to Iraq as a separate nation. Here's a small sample, but the entire post is worth a read.

Countries are formed in periods of flux and chaos. As far as I can research, countries are formed by a colonial power, by a colonial powers departure from the area, or through civil war or successful rebellion. The latter two usually require a sponsoring superpower to provide arms and this path is filled with death and destruction. The BEST way to get a country is JUST DO IT and then it will be a de facto country. This gives a sponsoring superpower the reasons they need to recognize the country. Believe me, nations do not do things for "human rights" reasons. They never have done that. They only act in their own self-interest. The formation of Kurdistan as a nation has to be not only the "right" thing to do, providing a moral argument, which we already have; it also requires a "what's in it for us argument". That is what we need to establish within this brief window of time before the US gives up on Iraq (not saying that will happen too soon, and they could win in Iraq, but it is looking less likely by the day). A "Case" must be made for Kurdistan in the affirmative, not based on human rights.

Also, there is another blog in the blogroll from Kurdo who has an interesting take on why the elections should be delayed and the dangers of marginalizing other Iraq factions in favor of the Shiites. Some of his reasons are completely unrelated to politics or war, but instead raise practical issues such as the weather. These are the types of "on the ground" inside views that all participants in this mess should be looking at.

The Kurdistan parties wish to postpone the elections because of the difficulty of the weather. In the mountains, where most of the villages are, sometimes it will snow 1 or 2 meters. This year, for the first time for centuries, it snowed in November, which could mean that major roads could be closed in January due to the snow.

In the Kurdish calendar, "January" is called "Bafranbar" or "The month of snow". So, a huge number of villagers and others from the smaller mountainous cities will not be able to participate in this great democratic event due to snow.



Rose Has the Flu Again

posted by Jazz at 11/27/2004 10:36:00 AM

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That would be Rose, the author of Diary from Baghdad. Sadly, her husband now seems to have the flu as well. For those who don't follow her blog, Rose is a civil engineer (or was, anyway) and mother living in Baghdad. She has tried to be supportive of the American invasion, and mostly just seems to be trying to get along. This sounds like a bad week, however. She understands the attacks on Fallujah and thinks it needed to be done, but was rather down about the methods used and the results.

When I review the sequence of actions that the US army follows in solving problems, I found it similar to Saddam�s. Destroying all that come in front of them, act strongly without mercy, like killing that wounded person in the mosque!, random arrests, destroying houses if they suspect that there are some fighters in them. Maybe Saddam�s policy was right, and this is the only way that works with us. In the end only the innocent people pay and suffer hard. My prayers to those innocent people who had been killed or became homeless, my heart and mind with them. It is so hard when you don�t know if you will be back and if you do, you might find yourself and your family without home to live in or a place to stay. I know the government promised to compromise them, but they did not say how much they will pay them and when? Money doesn�t replace the losses of the memories you had in that place or that corner nor replace the losses of your beloved ones.

I wish we were avoided this violence from the beginning, and again I blame the Americans for the mistakes they have made after Baghdad�s fall. They could have simply minimized this blood shed from the beginning if they had acted wisely.

For you e-bay users

posted by Jazz at 11/27/2004 09:36:00 AM

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Don't fall for scams that appear to be information requests from e-bay. It almost happened to Joe Territo. Be careful out there.

Riding out this dark age

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/27/2004 09:28:00 AM

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An old time Republican speaks out in this op-ed in the Baltimore Sun and it's worth a read. I'll do a few snips but you really should go to the source and read the entire piece.
The psycho-graphic profiles of the electorate by partisan consultants contributed to a rising political hypochondria that permitted individuals like me to feel the pangs of every ideological symptom out there. The media-concocted red-blue divide offered an easy escape from having to sort through the complex issues.

But whether one thinks red or blue thoughts, the Blues must deal with the reality of terrorism. Yet the Reds claimed the security issue for themselves. Who wants to blow up a cornfield in Iowa anyway? The Blues, who have the most to lose, felt most secure in Sen. John Kerry's embrace.

In fact, Osama bin Laden's TV warning in the last week of the campaign clearly stated that his issue is with the American voters who have supported the interventionist and exploitive American policies in the Middle East over the years. His warning, clearly aimed at the red states, was ignored by the media even though the English translation was available.

Amazingly, pollsters told us that the dominant issue for the Reds in their electoral choice was "moral values." Gone was the traditional pragmatism that had served the democracy well since its founding, replaced by the raw emotionalism of the evangelical flatlanders dancing on the graves of Christopher Reeve and Rock Hudson. The Reds, in effect, elected a new spiritual leader. In the blue states, where high church denominations tend to dominate, they leave those decisions to cardinals and bishops' councils.
He concludes with this:
Life is cyclical. We defeated the fascists in 1945, and it took 50 years for their ideology to reassert itself. Given the quickening pace of political and social evolution, a new age of reason should dawn in about 20 years. Until then, I will detour my annual family vacation from a North Carolina beach to the Jersey shore. I will only eat California oranges, and luckily most of the good wine is produced in blue states, etc., etc.
The word Fascist has been used by the extreme left to describe the US government since the 60s, but the "F" word was used by this old Republican to describe the Bush Republican party. Do a Google search for fascism and you may be surprised how the actions of the Bush administration mirror the actions of Mussolini.


Writing Off the Sunni

posted by Jazz at 11/27/2004 08:36:00 AM

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It's becoming increasingly obvious that all of the cheerleading in the world is not going to make the three rival factions in Iraq suddenly transform into one happy melting pot, and no amount of lipstick applied to that pig is going to make it look any better. The most recent example of this is, of course, the call by Sunni clerical leaders to boycott the upcoming elections which they view as nothing more than an American endorsed approval of Shiite rule of the country. It seems that the Bush apologists have decided on a new spin for this: the Sunni don't matter.

Leading the charge this morning is Charles Krauthammer, who's editorial attempts to build a case for the legitimacy of January Iraqi elections assuming a Sunni boycott. His premise is based on examples from American history - specifically the elections of 1864 and 1868 in which eleven and three states respectively did not participate. So, he asks, does this mean that the elections of Lincoln and Grant were illegitimate? (A fair case can, and has, been made that Lincoln's 1864 victory had a big asterisk by it, but that can be left for another day.)

The flaws in this argument are obvious, of course. The American examples are cases where one nation, emerging from a civil war but still a single country and people, remained divided about their differences and some chose not to participate. The Iraqis have never truly been one people since the time the country was forcibly forged into existence by an international hammer and anvil. They have always been three nations with an even greater number of sub-sets dividing them. There is no national sense of unity or sense of joint ownership of their future. Trying to force three sets of people into one functional unit, then ignoring one of them (who compose more than 1/5 of the country) because they aren't buying into the vision, is a fraud.

Iraq is a civil war waiting to happen. And Krauthammer makes a very valid point that it is already happening, except that we are fighting the war for the Kurds and the Shiites against the Sunni. Without intending it, his column makes one of the best cases for leaving Iraq now that I've heard to date. They are going to fight anyway... it's time we let them.

As Krauthammer also points out, again without intending to, it's not just the Sunni who aren't invested in this election. "The Kurds want to retain their successful autonomous zone without worrying about new depredations at the hands of the Sunni Arabs." The Kurds would have made a deal with anyone to get rid of Saddam. Now they are simply biding their time until the Americans leave so they can solidify their claim to an independent state in practice, if not in name. Unlike the 1800's United States, Iraq is a land with three groups who have not yet been formed into one people, and are highly unlikely to become one. Holding an election that only provides a sense of buy-in to one of the groups is simply a sham for a political dog and pony show on the international stage to say, "See? We did it! Yay!"

Still, the "Bush must be proven right at any cost" crowd is quickly lining up to grasp at this straw. Both Betsy Newmark and Dale Franks are quick to quote Krauthammer, saying "Great points!" and "So much for that argument." without offering any supporting explanation. I'm afraid that you're going to see a lot more of this over the next two months.

Update: Deacon, at Powerline, continues the "Kill 'em all" and let God sort them out theme that I normally saw at Dean's World. He comments on this article only to take issue with Krauthammer's position on the civil war in Iraq. While he doesn't admit that it is already going on, it is heartening that he admits it may start after the elections. Sadly, he feels that we need to charge in and continue to fight the majority Shiites' war for them. A link is also provided to his prevoius position on this.

The Pork Report, Part 2

posted by Jazz at 11/27/2004 06:18:00 AM

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As promised, more fat, fun and fascinating pork projects continue to emerge from the latest 1,000 page omnibus spending bill. It is worthwhile to note that this tome, which makes War and Peace look like the Cliff Notes for a comic book, was given to our representatives with only a few hours to read it prior to the vote. When you hustle something like this through that fast, you're simply begging for the plump porkers in congress to push their snouts into the trough and dash off squealing with your tax dollars. But enough pontificating... ON WITH THE PORK ROLL!

Right near the top we find $97,000 for the Franco-American Heritage Center in Maine. I can't prove it, but I can't help but suspect that wonderful, moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe was smirking at her neocon, red state colleagues when that one got put in. Given their disdain for all things French, you can just imagine Senator Snowe chuckling as they munched on their Freedom Fries and signed on for giving that cash to an organization that celebrates French heritage in America. Most of them probably didn't have time to read the bill, or in the case of some of the more Southern ones, they might have thought "Franco-American" had something to do with spaghetti-o's.

Nevada managed to round up $25,000 to develop a curriculum to study mariachi music. I'd say more, but I think it works better if you just let that one stew in your own minds for a while.

Down in Virginia, (where else?) all of those Bush voting NASCAR fans got their symbolic pound of flesh as you dished out $99,000 to train students in the motorsports industry to Patrick Henry Community College.

Alabama scored $167,000 to control horn flies. In case you didn't know, the horn fly is a "dung breeding fly" which lives in the south. Ewwwww.

North Dakota snagged $350,000 for leafy spurge eradication. I don't suppose those wild hogs in Missouri could just be shipped up their to eat it?

Not to be left out of the bacon binge, both my home state of New York and our left coast colleagues in California grabbed $3M each for grape genetics research centers. Grapes? Six million dollars for grape research?

Alaska was once again the big winner, just like last year. They snapped up $2M to relocate a kitchen in the North Star Borough school district. That must be a big kitchen. They also got $250,000 for a "statehood celebration." In fact, our friends in the far North managed to get more pork line items than any other state, also including:

$175,000 Love Social Services, Fairbanks, Alaska
$72,750 Public swimming pool construction, Prescott, Alaska
$275,000 National History Museum of the Adirondacks, Tupper Alaska
$150,000 Fishing Rationalization Research in Alaska
$1,500,000 Anchorage Museum/Transit intermodal depot, Alaska
$160,000 Seafood waste in Alaska
$1,108,000 Alternative salmon products in Alaska
$1,800,000 Eider and sea otter recovery at Alaska Sea Life Center
$500,000 Chugach NF Valdez visitor center, Alaska
$150,000 Alaska Botanical Garden
$500,000 Kincaid Park Soccer and Nordic Ski Center, Anchorage
$900,000 Tongass Coast Aquarium, Ketchikan Alaska

That adds up to $8,920,750. Sweet deal, Alaska.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Iraq

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/26/2004 09:28:00 AM

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The New York Times has an editorial this morning on the conference held on Iraq in Egypt.
Foreign ministers from all the right countries were present. The timing - two months before the scheduled date of Iraq's all-important elections - was promising. The Mideast location was symbolically apt. Too bad, then, that this week's big international conference on Iraq in the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el Sheik, bringing together all of Baghdad's neighbors and every permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, did so little to change the dismal overall equation.
The fact that the conference came up with no solutions is not surprising, as long as the United States occupies Iraq there are no solutions. As Jazz put it so well "My position on our situation in Iraq is unchanged by the Holiday Spirit. We need to get the fuck out and we need to do it now." The US IS the problem in Iraq and no progress can be made as long as US forces occupy the country. The Times ends their otherwise decent editorial with a paragraph of pure unrealistic dreaming.
To begin changing this bleak picture, the Bush administration will have to work much harder at international bridge building than it did in its first term. Simply soliciting support for current American policies will not be enough. Washington must also be willing to consider changing some of those policies as part of a renewed process of international consultation. That might lead to more productive international conferences in the future.
Does anybody really think any of that will happen?

It is not in the best interests of the world or Iraq's neighbors for the country to be in chaos. Once the US pulls out altogether there may be some willingness for others to step in to try to restore order but order is not possible with a US presence in Iraq. Jazz is right, We need to get the fuck out and we need to do it now.



Know Your Iraqis

posted by Jazz at 11/26/2004 08:24:00 AM

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You hear a lot of talk being bandied about concerning the various factions in Iraq - specifically the Sunni, Shiia and Kurds. How much do you really know about them, their history, what they have in common and what divides them? Abu Khaleel at Iraqi Letter to America has taken the time to try to explain some of it for you.

For example, do you know:

How many subsects of Sunni there are and what the Hanafi doctrine is?
Who Imam Ali is, and which sect follows his teachings?
What religious sect the majority of the Kurds are?
The difference between a mosque and a Husseineyyah?
What and where the Hawza is?

If you don�t know, and you are seriously interested in the internal works and future of Iraq, I suggest you read this informative post from an insider. No politics, no bashing or supporting of America� just a basic primer on the religious sects of the nation we are dealing with.

Shamelessly crossposted at The Left Right Debate.


Snark in Eye Rock

posted by Jazz at 11/26/2004 07:51:00 AM

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I don't know if freedom is on the march, but at least the invasion of Iraq is spreading Snark to the Middle east. Raed in the Middle sends us his own Thanksgiving spoof of Bush talking to John Negroponte over the holiday, complete with pictures. Check it out. Good to see you're at least keeping your sense of humor, Raed.

Friday Cat Blogging, Holiday Style

posted by Jazz at 11/26/2004 06:25:00 AM

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Usual Linkage Mumbo Jumbo: It looks like the Friday Ark at Modulator might be a bit late due to the holiday, but check in later for a collection of animals. This week, the Carnival of Cats will be at Watermark, so take a look there on Sunday evening.

Don't you just hate it when your cat goes all satanic, his eyes begin glowing green, and he tries to give you hypnotic commands? Here we see Pepe saying, "Jazz... put down the turkey and go outside." Oh well... I suppose we can have burgers.

(Click on photo for full size image.)



Yet More Travel

posted by Jazz at 11/26/2004 06:08:00 AM

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Still doing the Turkey Day travel routine, so posting is scattershot. We should be back in business by tomorrow. Be safe out there.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thank God

posted by Jazz at 11/25/2004 11:49:00 AM

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Radical Christian Cleric Jerry Falwell announced in his annual Thanksgiving Day pro-theocracy propoganda address that he was grateful to the Lord for...

Sean Hannity
Rush Limbaugh
Faux News
The Drudge Report

Almost enough to bring a tear to these old eyes. Wait... I'm getting all verklempt.

Happy Thanksgiving

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/25/2004 09:39:00 AM

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I want to wish all of the Running Scared visitors a happy Thanksgiving and thank Jazz for giving this slightly left of center ranter from the Pacific Northwest another venue for his rants. Thankful for simple things, my Thanksgiving post can be found over at MEJ. Have a great day.

The Pork Report - Thanksgiving Edition

posted by Jazz at 11/25/2004 08:33:00 AM

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Happy Thanksgiving, for all of you who celebrate it! While the main course for many Americans today will feature turkey, the topic of the moment is pork. Yes, you guessed it... we're talking about congressional pork in the latest, massive omnibus bill. Ever one of my favorite topics, I couldn't resist digging in to see which greedy piggies were pushing their snouts into the trough and grabbing up your tax dollars, and to what purpose. As usual, we've got some real winners.

Alabama lawmakers takes special honors this time. They wrangled $4M for a fertilizer development and research center. (!?!)

Kentucky grabbed up $2.3M for an animal waste management research lab. I suppose saying "fertilizer" in Kentucky would only have merited one million or so. Longer names get more money. If they would only ship all of their animal waste to Alabama we could probably have saved $6.3M.

Washington (state) managed to snap up $1M each for a Norwegian - American Foundation, and a "Wild American Shrimp Initiative." (!?!) This is a good time to throw some kind words towards John McCain, a perennial opponent of pork. Upon hearing about the shrimp project, he launched into a fine fit of snark. "Are shrimp are so unruly and lacking initiative that the government must spend $1 million on them? Why does the U.S. taxpayer need to fund this 'no shrimp left behind' act? I am hoping that the appropriators could explain to me why we need $1 million for this -- are American shrimp unruly and lacking initiative?" If nothing else, we can still have some faith in, and a smile from, the Senator from Arizona. But I digress... back to the pork roll.

North Dakota snuck off with $335,000 to protect sunflowers from blackbirds. No blackbirds were available for comment.

Missouri managed to grab up $50,000 for wild hog control. I guess the hogs have been hanging around with those wild shrimp too much and have become unruly. These shrimp must be a bad influence on everyone. I understand the proposed porcine reeducation camps are very nice, though.

As in previous reports, Alaska can always be counted on to belly up to the trough,and this bill was no exception. Their bacon happy Senators managed to grab nearly half a million dollars to investigate and develop salmon fortified baby food, in an effort to bolster their salmon market. Am I the only one who recalls that, as a result of Bush's "no polluting industry left behind" initiatives, children and pregnant women were supposed to avoid eating fish because of the high levels of mercury in them? But we're funding a project to use salmon to make baby food?

There will be more updates to the Pork Report in coming days. The bill itself is over one thousand pages long, and rooting all the pork out will take time. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Rising to the Bait

posted by Jazz at 11/24/2004 03:19:00 PM

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While I rarely base posts in this blog on e-mails or the comment section, this one has to be an exception. I've been awfully busy this last week with personal matters and travel, so I haven't gotten to the comments section as much as I should. Sorry about that. However, I recently posted a link to a new site for Blogs Against Hillary (which I fully endorse) which resulted in my being excoriated by Jill from Brilliant at Breakfast. In the interest of fairness, I shall repost that comment in full with no editing.

A little bit obsessive, aren't we, about someone who isn't even a candidate? I can understand not liking her, but the level of venom directed at her (and also at Teresa Heinz Kerry, I might add) makes me think something else is going on here, and I don't know what it is. Some kind [sic] of primal vagina dentata fear, perhaps?

Rather than make you do a search, I will direct you to a previous post I made on this subject called "Hillary Bright and Dark." (Which I really need to permalink in the right column.) And even though I hope you read the entire thing, I will repeat here one of the many myths that Hillary supporters continue to bang on whenever anyone with a penis dares question Queen Hillary.

Myth Number One: You're a typical male misogynist who can't stand a strong, independent, opinionated (Bitch!) woman in a position of power.

Nice try, but that dog won't hunt here. Back in the day, when I lived in New Jersey, I worked actively for the campaign of Christie Todd Whitman as Governor of the Garden State, and was among many pushing for her to run for the White House. This year, I am already participating in a letter writing campaign trying to encourage Olympia Snowe of Maine to form an exploratory and fund raising committee to look at a 2008 run for the West Wing. I may be a Republican, but I have always been a believer in the old saw that, "Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman." But here we are specifically talking about one woman - Hillary - and she is far from being "the best man for the job."


Why is it so hard for some people to understand that there may be residents of New York who simply don't feel that Hillary Clinton is qualified to hold office for valid reasons without immediately resorting to the "vagina dentata" argument, or that we hate "bitches?" The woman is a carpetbagging, unqualified "rock star" who has no business in my Senate seat, and certainly does not have the qualifications to be the President. She needs to go back home to Arkansas, and soon.

If my sink is broken, I'll call a plumber. Not somebody who was married to a plumber.

As to Teresa, I have no problems with her as a person in any way. She seems like a serious humanitarian, and she runs a staggering, gigantic charity foundation that helps a lot of people all over the world. The only problem I had was, you see, I was desperately pulling for John Kerry, milquetoast as he was, to beat George W. Bush in this election. It seemed that, try as she might to help, every single time Teresa got up in front of a microphone with the press watching, she said something damaging to the campaign. The press was already in a fever pitch talking about how she was so "European" and "elitist" and, God forbid, "rich" that nobody would like her. Having her come up with the endless series of gaffes that she fell into was shooting torpedoes into her husband's campaign. I think she would have made a fine First Lady, and is probably a great wife for Kerry and mother to their respective children. But she had her foot in her mouth so often that porn magazines were calling her for photo shoots. She needed to be muzzled for the campaign because she simply had no political savvy and kept giving endless opportunities to the Rove team to make her look the fool.

Clear enough?

Religious Intolerance = Vandalism

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/24/2004 11:26:00 AM

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A Roman Catholic cathedral in St Paul MN suffered damage when an apparent anti-gay exorcism was performed.
An informal exorcism performed at the Cathedral of St. Paul this month was more profane than sacred and was directed toward gay Catholics, police and church authorities said Tuesday.

They said the ritualistic sprinkling of blessed oil and salt around the church and in donation boxes amounted to costly vandalism and possibly even a hate crime.
The party responsible for the vandalism is suspected to be the group Catholics Against Sacrilege, a fringe group that perceives gays and lesbians who take communion as evil, and the incident was intended to reconsecrate the cathedral after the gays and lesbians had taken communion.



Girls are dumb

posted by Jazz at 11/24/2004 11:19:00 AM

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... and have cooties, too. But if it's any consolation, the boys aren't looking to be much brighter. Ok, all kidding aside, Jill from Brilliant at Breakfast has pointed out a fascinating study conducted by the government's National Science Foundation. The study tested a random sampling of Americans on their knowledge of general science. Jill points out some of the shocking shortcomings, such as the number of people who apparently think (and no, I'm not making this up) that the sun revolves around the Earth. There's plenty more.

One aspect of the study which caught my eye, though, was the odd disparity between males and females in terms of how well they did. The test consisted of 18 questions, and of those, women scored better than men on only two of them. (I have no idea what this might indicate, but women were significantly more aware than men that it is the father's genes which determine the sex of their children, not the mother's, and that antibiotics are unable to kill viruses.) For the other sixteen questions, the men outscored the women by margins that varied from "nearly a tie" ( for example on the question of whether or not the center of the Earth is very hot) to some complete blowouts. (For example, men were more than twice as likely as women to know that lasers focus light and not sound waves.)

The report doesn't give a breakdown by gender of the various levels of education, so we have no way of knowing if they oversampled women with a lower total amount of education, etc. Also, there were more women in the study than men by a significant margin, which might have thrown it off. Still, it is somewhat startling to me that men would score that much higher. Of course, the key aspect of their findings was that people of both genders in this country seem to be woefully ignorant about some basic science items. Don't these people get the Discovery Channel on cable where they live?

Since my posting may be spotty, as previously noted, you might want to take the time to go to the top of Jill's blog and just flip through all of her entries for the last few days. She's really been on a roll.

I'd Rather Not

posted by Jazz at 11/24/2004 10:38:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

Specifically, I'd rather not post about Dan Rather's upcoming departure from CBS. The entire situation disgusts me, and everyone else is already talking about it anyway. As usual, you can check out Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice for a lengthy analysis of the situation, along with snippets and links literally dozens of bloggers who are expounding on the subject.

But since I can't let this pass in its entirety without saying something, I'll just make these brief observations. First of all, I'm sure the "Look at me!" bunch over at Powerline is celebrating up a storm as if they were personally responsible for Rather's retirement. Don't flatter yourselves, kids. There were a lot of factors at work, and while it's a painful idea to embrace, the MSM still isn't running at your beck and call. Second, Rather has gotten a much stiffer rap than he ever deserved. I think those who have been accusing him of intentional partisan fraud are simply shrill partisans themselves. Dan Rather, as I see it, was guilty of incompetence at most. He, and CBS in general, fell victim to the temptation of "The Big Scoop" and let it compromise their standard practices. Period.

So long, Dan. I've been watching you, on and off, for most of your 24 years. You always seemed like a good egg to me.

A Bit Slow

posted by Jazz at 11/24/2004 10:19:00 AM

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Light Posting Warning

My apologies in advance but, while I'll try to get to this as I can, posting may be rather erratic today and tomorrow. We've just received some rather devastating news about a dear friend who is going to be facing a pretty awful medical situation and we're trying to help as we can. Also, with the Thanksgiving holiday and possible travel... well, you know the story. I'll be here as much as I can, but it may be spotty until the weekend.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

No good deed goes unpunished

posted by Mu at 11/23/2004 05:53:00 PM

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A while ago I decided to be a good net-citizen, and actually buy the "professional" version of a piece of freeware I really liked. In this case, "Winamp" by Nullsoft, which runs in the background on my machine pretty much all day. Happily supporting a small independent developer (or so I thought) I donated my $15.
Today I found this little tibbit that burst my bubble. Nullsoft is no longer. Not only won't I have the advantage off all the free perks my "professional" version promised for the future, I actually had thrown my money into the wide open mouth of AOL. The only good thing, it looks like AOL is still choking on that purchase. So I'm not feeling quite as bad.

My New Christmas Wish List

posted by Jazz at 11/23/2004 04:01:00 PM

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You can buy me this.

George W. Bushisms.. the accidental wit and wisdom of our president.




Description

HEAR Dubya say things like: "War is a dangerous place." CRINGE as he asks: "Is our children learning?" PUZZLE over statements like: "Karyn is a West Texas girl, just like me."

Hosted by comedian and pundit BRIAN UNGER, this DVD includes dozens of classic "Bushism" video clips, hilarious guests, music videos, cartoons and much, much more!

This comedy collection also includes commentary from the editor of the original "Bushisms" book series, JACOB WEISBERG and from political observer and best-selling author AL FRANKEN.

Plus, the DVD includes four new music videos from THE GEORGE W. BUSH SINGERS, artwork from DOONESBURY creator GARRY TRUDEAU and animated segments from CHRIS "SKETCHBOY" ROUTLY.

If you don't get it for me, get it for you.



Mooooooo

posted by Jazz at 11/23/2004 03:24:00 PM

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No... not "Mu" (who hasn't posted here in days) but the sound cows make. Specifically pregnant cows. Even more specifically, pregnant cows in swimming pools.

A PREGNANT British cow took a plunge into a neighbor's chilly pool in southern England, wading around for four hours before being rescued, firefighters said.

A total of 10 cows,had broken out of their field through a hedge and wandered into a private garden near Andover, Hampshire.

"The homeowner, who is having her birthday today, woke up this morning to find several cows in her garden and one in the swimming pool," a fire service spokeswoman said.

Firefighters went into the freezing water to join the animal while waiting for a vet who sedated the animal.

The cow was reported unharmed and back in its home field "but shivering a little bit", the spokeswoman said.

Hat tip to Dave Barry.

More Iraqi Blogging

posted by Jazz at 11/23/2004 01:48:00 PM

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Today's addition to the Iraq blogroll is Healing Iraq. This blog is hosted by a dentist who lives in Baghdad. His most recent entry, from this weekend, tells a story similar to the ones we are hearing from all of these citizen journalists in the war zone.

Fierce fighting has been going on in several areas of Baghdad for the last 4 hours. I was supposed to leave for Basrah this morning, as soon as I walked out of the front door I was face to face with ten or so hooded men dressed in black carrying Ak-47's and RPG's. They had set up a checkpoint right in front of our door.

Someone barked at me to go inside. Nabil was also about to leave for his school. His driver had just called him and said that he was turned back at the street entrance by another checkpoint. We looked at the main intersection and it was swarming with armed men running about and motioning drivers and pedestrians to leave the area.

We watched them from behind the door with my mother frantically trying to get us inside. There was an exchange of fire and someone was bellowing "Where are the National traitors? (referring to the National Guards) Let them come and taste this." More shooting followed.

Tens of voices on the street were chanting "Allahu Akbar" and the ground beneath us suddenly shook from a nearby explosion. The shooting was frantic now and a series of explosions followed. Everyone in the house rushed to open windows to prevent their shattering from the pressure.

And then this:

I had to sleep during the day since I was up all night yesterday. The fighting hasn't ceased yet. I woke up several times to hear nearby explosions and then I drift back to sleep.

Just in case you were wondering. Yes, we did contact the police in our neighbourhood using the public phone numbers they had given out a couple of months ago. Guess what? They were surrounded by insurgents and couldn't do anything about it. In Adhamiya, the police station was set on fire and four policemen were killed in the fighting, the rest seem to have left their posts. The National Guard base in Saddam's former palace near the Adhamiya bridge was also under attack for the whole day.

There's much more.

Edit: And a second addition. Glimpse of Iraq. The author's most recent entry is a seriously tragic story. Don't read it if you can't take any more sadness.

B.A.H.

posted by Jazz at 11/23/2004 01:20:00 PM

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Yes... it's time to unveil...




That's right. Somebody is already gathering together all of the bloggers who will hopefully assist in raising both funds and public awarness to send this horrid crone packing from my state two years from now, and deflate her chances at usurping the White House. Give them some love.

It's time to take religion back from the haters, killers and temple money-changers

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/23/2004 01:19:00 PM

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It's easy for pagans like me to put all Christians in the radical wingnut category. One of my favorite op-ed guys, John F. Sugg, who does the Fishwrapper column in Atlanta's Creative Loafing, is a Christian who is not a wingnut. His commentary this week, I am a Christian, too is a must read for all real Christians.

There's a bit of schoolin' that God-fearing folks in Cobb County and the rest of the nation should pay heed to as they cheer the creationist team in a federal lawsuit heard last week.

The legal spat, over a warning plastered in Cobb schools' biology texts that evolution is merely a "theory" and not a "fact," has the world press in a tizzy now that evangelicals are perceived as political 900-pound gorillas (probably not a great metaphor when talking about evolution).
[........]
Still, there is a "gol darn, I didn't know that!" lesson hidden in the Cobb evolution brouhaha, one that should be important to every Christian. It's a gem from the earlier "monkey" trial, the 1925 drama that starred teacher John Scopes, who challenged Tennessee's anti-evolution statute. The advocate for the religious side was William Jennings Bryan, one of the great men of principle in American history.
But, oh, heavens, Bryan was a died-in-the-wool liberal. He generally was described as a "populist," but in the parlance of the late 19th century, that meant liberal. Bryan volunteered in the Spanish-American War; that experience turned him into a fervent pacifist bitterly opposed to the nascent American imperialism. As Woodrow Wilson's secretary of state, he jawboned the 30 leading world powers to agree to a one-year cooling-off period before going to war -- no pre-emptive slaughter for Bryan.

Dubbed "the Great Commoner," he castigated the capitalists as enemies of common folk. Among his most ardent allies in a 1896 presidential bid was American socialist leader Eugene V. Debs.

In short, Bryan was a man who would have earned the scorn of Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and Trent Lott. If he was reincarnated and ran today for a U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, Saxby Chambliss would air commercials putting Bryan's mug alongside Saddam's and Osama's -- just as he did to Max Cleland.

But hold on a minute. Bryan also was a fundamentalist Christian. At the Scopes trial, he thundered, "I believe everything in the Bible should be accepted as it is given there." He was born again, he was an evangelical.
[.....]
Let's wind forward 79 years. Bob Jones III is president of the racist Bob Jones University in Greenville, a favorite haunt of George Bush. Jones, a storm trooper of the religious reich-wing vanguard that claims ownership of Bush, sternly admonished the president after the election, "You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ." Ah, I get it. Bush & Co. own Christ.

The letter also underscores the message hammered home so successfully by the GOP during the recent campaign: Liberals despise Christ.That's a lie.

The example of William Jennings Bryan -- and millions of others -- makes clear that ultra-conservatives don't have an exclusive claim on Christ. It's time for Christians to start giving witness to that fact.
[.....]
I testify that I am a Christian........

[.....]
I don't pay heed to the false prophets such as Pat Robertson and Tim LaHaye of the Left Behind books because Christ said to beware of charlatans claiming to know when He is coming again.

The "rapture" isn't in the Bible, so it's not in my theology. I find it hard to conceive of Jesus returning to save a few smug Pharisees such as Jerry Falwell while brutally slaying billions of my brothers and sisters. The heaven I believe in has ample room for all men and women of all faiths who seek God and try to live good lives.

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus said, "Not everyone who saith 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father ... ." He told us his Father's will was to be meek; to be peacemakers; to take care of the weak, the poor, the afflicted; to sheathe the sword.

I believe there is truth in every word of the Bible, but as Bryan said during the Scopes trial, "Some of the Bible is given illustratively." I also believe there is truth in other faiths' scriptures, and I study them, too....

[.....]
War is not a Christian value. I'm a Methodist, and our literature clearly states, "We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ."

In short, George Bush hasn't earned the photographic halo that our local gutless daily newspaper bestowed upon him on Nov. 5's front page.

The neutron bomb in the values debate -- the device that allegedly sunk John Kerry -- was gay marriage. I don't have the answers to questions about gays. Jesus didn't say a word about homosexuality, but he did say love your neighbor. That's enough for me.

What I do know is that gays don't threaten my marriage. The divorce rates are much higher in anti-gay Southern states than in gay-friendly Massachusetts and New York. Among Christians, the born-again variety has the highest incidence of divorce, according to a poll by Christian researcher George Barna. There are some lessons in those numbers.

The gay issue has been used solely to create fear and division, and as Jesus said, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation." Thank you, GOP legislators.

The reason, most agree, that divorce is higher here is because of the impoverishment of the South, much of it the result of Bush's enrich-the-already-rich economics. For a final personal belief, I think Jesus was on the money when he said, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Pretty simple language.

So all you Radical Right Christian zealots, see what someone who has actually read the Bible and the words of Christ has to say. Maybe there is something there for you to learn, like the true meaning of Christ' message. Although I am not a Christian I have studied the actual words of Christ and found them to be a wonderful guide on how to live my life, that's why I'm a Liberal.
Cross posted at Middle Earth Journal

The Perfect Economic Storm

posted by Jazz at 11/23/2004 11:00:00 AM

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Here's some news to brighten up your Tuesday. Morgan Stanley chief economist Stephen Roach, says that there is a 90% probability that America is heading into an "economic armegeddon" or, perhaps more accurately, a "perfect storm" of economic conditions.

His prediction: America has no better than a 10 percent chance of avoiding economic "armageddon.''

In a nutshell, Roach's argument is that America's record trade deficit means the dollar will keep falling. To keep foreigners buying T-bills and prevent a resulting rise in inflation, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan will be forced to raise interest rates further and faster than he wants.
The result: U.S. consumers, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, will get pounded.


I wonder where Bush and Cheney have all of their millions tied up? I somehow get the feeling that this isn't going to impact them very much. Good luck everyone!



Get Out Now. Period.

posted by Jazz at 11/23/2004 08:57:00 AM

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You may now open up the verbal assault lines and begin labeling me with any of the following terms as you see fit: flip-flopper, Ugly American, isolationist, shrill, defeatist or pessimist. (Declinist?) I will consider accepting other derogatory labels, but please clear them through my agent's office before going to press.

Why am I now all of these truly awful things? Because last night, as I walked around the yard with my dog, watching the clouds roll overhead, I came to the realization that my position on the Iraq war has changed and, quite frankly, I don't give a tinker's damn what anyone else thinks about it. I am now firmly convinced that my previous conciliatory position was wrong, and that I must join the ranks of the people (many of whom are being called "shrill") saying that we need to get entirely out of Iraq, and we need to do it NOW.

In the past, my position on this has been one of despondent resignation. I was (and remain) tremendously angry at George W. Bush for sending our troops into this private war of folly who's only justifications turned out to be completely false. But, I reasoned, no matter how wrong we were to go in, the fact was that we were there now and we had to muddle through as best we could to sort things out and set them to rights as much as possible. I suppose it came from a sense of personal and national responsibility... we broke Iraq, and it was going to be up to us to fix it. I even took my place with the bobbleheads saying that we needed to correct Rumsfeld's disastrous planning errors by sending tens of thousands of additional troops into the country to "get the job done right."

No more. I believe the change was brought on partly by watching the endless flow of MSM news out of the country, and by the manic chanting of the right wing war bloggers that we need to go in and kill more and more Iraqis... but mostly it came from reading the words of the bloggers inside of Iraq themselves. (Links to many of them will be found in Running Scared's blogroll.)

Yes, the country is broken, and clearly we were the ones who broke it. Saddam was an awful man - a cruel dictator who oppressed and abused his own people - but let's face the facts... the country wasn't burning down and exploding before we arrived. It was previously dysfunctional. Now it is broken. The nation's infrastructure, already in poor shape when we arrived, is really in the crapper now. As a wise man once said, it will ever be easier to destroy than to create or even repair. Days and weeks of work to establish electrical power to one neighborhood or get a single oil refinery back on line can be undone in a few minutes of mortar fire, and these insurgents don't look as if they'll be running out of rockets and mortars any time soon.

But, you may ask, what of our responsibility to the Iraqi people? Well, I'll tell you... it's the people themselves that drive me to this position. First of all, we keep talking and cheering and pinning our hopes on these democratic elections coming up in January. The more I read, the more convinced I become that the Iraqis feel no vested interest in these elections and most of them wouldn't know what to do with a true democracy if you hit them over the heads with it.

And who is it exactly that we are fighting? The administration's continued insistence that our "enemies" are a small band of foreign terrorists working with remnants of Saddam's Royal Guard is a politically motivated fantasy. There is no great level of command and control among these "insurgents" because we're battling at least four different groups of people who have very different goals little in common besides a shared hatred of our forces.

There are certainly a small number of foreign terrorists. How many were found among the dead and captured in Fallujah? The last number I heard put it at under 5%. There are also some locals who the Iraqis are calling the "Vandals." They are wildcards who are just trying to steal and destroy whatever they can... probably the Iraq equivalent of the anarchists we have in America. Then there are the two largest groups. Yes, some of them are former members of the Ba'athist party and Saddam's army trying to regain control. Others, whether or not you choose to admit it, are simply Iraqis who view our invasion as a foreign army coming and invading their country and occupying their lands. Whatever labels we choose to put on these people do not matter. In their minds, which is the only place that counts, they see themselves as patriots defending their homeland against the foreign aggressors. And with every mosque that we bomb, with every home or small shop that burns down, with every rocket that lands in someone's garden, we create more of them.

If there's one thing that history should have taught us, it's that there is no more dangerous group of people in the world than a group of patriots fighting on their home turf. I think we proved that pretty well in 1776. They aren't going to go away any time soon. As one pundit far wiser than me recently put it, the resistance doesn't need to beat us in order to win. They only need to hang on long enough and not lose. They seem to be doing a damned fine job of that thus far.

So with that, I say the hell with it. We are, as my Dad use to say, "shovelling shit against the tide." It was never our business to "save" the Iraqis from Saddam, and whatever threat to our nation from Iraq, as a national power, may or may not have existed is long since gone. There may still be a threat from terrorists there, but we'll never eliminate that and a fair case can be made to say that we are the midwives who oversaw the birth of the terrorist threat from Iraq as it exists today.

What is our death toll at the moment... 1,300? Who can even keep track these days? Well, that's 1,300 too many for this folly. The first one was too many. When we leave, be it next week, next month, next year, or ten years from now, that country is going to break out in a civil war between its three conflicting inner societies. This ugly American is willing to get the hell out and let them get on with it. Our troops are needed back home, and in Afghanistan to finally hunt down and kill that bastard bin Laden. It's high time we faced up to this reality and, as Nixon was accused of doing in Vietnam, "declare victory and go home." So yes... I will take the label of the cruel, unfeeling, isolationist American. The hell with Iraq. It's time for us to leave.

Crossposted at The Left Right Debate.

Monday, November 22, 2004

If You Had Any Questions...

posted by Jazz at 11/22/2004 05:13:00 PM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

... about the marine shooting in Falluja, then you need to read Kevin Sites' own report on it. I wouldn't want to be one of the Marines. I wouldn't want to be one of the Iraqis. And I sure has hell wouldn't want to be Kevin Sites.

I see an old man in a red kaffiyeh lying against the back wall. Another is face down next to him, his hand on the old man's lap -- as if he were trying to take cover. I squat beside them, inches away and begin to videotape them. Then I notice that the blood coming from the old man's nose is bubbling. A sign he is still breathing. So is the man next to him.

While I continue to tape, a Marine walks up to the other two bodies about fifteen feet away, but also lying against the same back wall.

Then I hear him say this about one of the men:

"He's fucking faking he's dead -- he's faking he's fucking dead."

Through my viewfinder I can see him raise the muzzle of his rifle in the direction of the wounded Iraqi. There are no sudden movements, no reaching or lunging.

However, the Marine could legitimately believe the man poses some kind of danger. Maybe he's going to cover him while another Marine searches for weapons.

Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back wall and the man's leg slumps down.

"Well he's dead now," says another Marine in the background.

I am still rolling. I feel the deep pit of my stomach. The Marine then abruptly turns away and strides away, right past the fifth wounded insurgent lying next to a column. He is very much alive and peering from his blanket. He is moving, even trying to talk. But for some reason, it seems he did not pose the same apparent "danger" as the other man -- though he may have been more capable of hiding a weapon or explosive beneath his blanket.

But then two other marines in the room raise their weapons as the man tries to talk.

For a moment, I'm paralyzed still taping with the old man in the foreground. I get up after a beat and tell the Marines again, what I had told the lieutenant -- that this man -- all of these wounded men -- were the same ones from yesterday. That they had been disarmed treated and left here.

At that point the Marine who fired the shot became aware that I was in the room. He came up to me and said, "I didn't know sir-I didn't know." The anger that seemed present just moments before turned to fear and dread.

The wounded man then tries again to talk to me in Arabic.

He says, "Yesterday I was shot... please... yesterday I was shot over there -- and talked to all of you on camera -- I am one of the guys from this whole group. I gave you information. Do you speak Arabic? I want to give you information." (This man has since reportedly been located by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service which is handling the case.)

There's a LOT more, but I'll let you read it. And a special note to all of you armchair quarterbacks at Captain's Quarters, Powerline (yeah.. they're real vets, eh?) et. al. Get all sides of the story before you begin your attacks. This was a sickening story from all angles, but some of you chose to just attack Kevin Sites as some sort of unpatriotic, anti-war, tree hugger endangering the troops. (The same crap you say about everyone who dissents from Bush's madman preemptive war policies.) I'd like to see any of you grow the cojones to do what Keven Sites did.

Idiots.

Do You Have the God Gene?

posted by Jazz at 11/22/2004 02:00:00 PM

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I'm betting it's dominant and not recessive. (Oh, man... I am so going to hell after these posts today.) Learn all about the God Gene over at Turnspit Daily. Yes, you might have a gene that makes you predisposed to being a religious zealot.

Be Afraid

posted by Jazz at 11/22/2004 01:31:00 PM

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I'm buying this guy a beer. (He needs one)

posted by Jazz at 11/22/2004 01:18:00 PM

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Courtesy of NYC Babylon, today we bear witness to the birth of a brand new blog from out on the left coast. Rather than focusing on banal subjects or rampant speculation on titillation and pop culture, here we find a man directing all of his creative energy into the last remaining virtue of our species: pessimism. (If grey is the new black, is pessimism the new pragmatism?)

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The Declinist. A small appetizer from his manifesto follows.

We are a nation in decline. Although there is no single way of explaining this phenomenon, no one theory or cause at its origin, the unavoidable fact remains nonetheless: the West is gradually slipping into oblivion and withering away... We seek to replace that denial by embracing entropy and building a community of pessimism, a new pessimism open to the naked truth of our moribund and degenerate lifestyle and culture. That is to say, finally, that ours is a project of ethics. We are here to dutifully uphold and deliver the fundamental principle upon which this blog is based: Pessimism is the last authentic virtue left in the world.

On second thought, if you are already down in the dumps over Iraq and four more years of W, you may want to take this guy in small doses.

Oh, and for the record, the little problem and medical tests that NYC Babylon was fighting has resulted in the tests coming back negative. And there was much rejoicing. Send her some congratulations in her comments section.

Shooting the Messenger

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/22/2004 11:44:00 AM

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Kevin Sites the photo journalist who filmed the marine shooting an unarmed man in a Falluja mosque has been vilified and is telling his story.
"Since the shooting in the mosque, I've been haunted that I have not been able to tell you directly what I saw," he wrote, "or explain the process by which the world came to see them as well."

He begins by writing, "I'm not some war zone tourist with a camera who doesn't understand that ugly things happen in combat." But despite his attempt to be fair, he said, since the Falluja video was broadcast on Nov. 15, he has been "shocked to see myself painted as some kind of antiwar activist." Sites has received abuse and death threats on some Web sites, and has shut down the discussion section of his own.

[See this]
Sites' description of the events and his thoughts are in the article.
As I have repeated over and over again good people do bad things when they fear for their lives in the heat of battle. It is necessary for the American people to know about these incidents in order to make decisions about a war. We should not be shooting the messenger.


Fallujah in Pictures

posted by Jazz at 11/22/2004 11:35:00 AM

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New blog from Iraq, but almost entirely photoblogging. It's called Fallujah in Pictures. Before linking it I will give you two warnings... one technical, one personal.

First, there are a ton of photos there, so the first time you visit it, even on a good connection, it may take quite a while for it to load up.

Second, some of these pictures are horrifyingly graphic. This is real "inside the war zone" photography. I have a pretty strong stomach, but I couldn't make it all the way through on the first go. You have been warned.

I'll be adding it to the Iraqi blogroll shortly, but you can visit their blog here.

New York State of Mind

posted by Jazz at 11/22/2004 10:09:00 AM

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This just in from Washington Whispers. In a sickeningly early snapshot of who people are looking to for the 2008 White House run, voters looks to be picking Rudy G. and (yack! Barf!) Hillary.

The results are in, and the crystal ball is clear: Voters are getting into a New York state of mind. Despite more than a dozen politicians already lining up to replace President Bush in four years, pollster Tony Fabrizio tells us that voters have only two candidates in mind: ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton . What about Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. John Edwards ? Fuhgeddaboudem, says Fabrizio's poll of 1,200 registered voters, one of the first on the 2008 race. Rudy beats McCain 42 percent to 24 percent. Hillary beats Edwards by a similar 18-point margin, 46 percent to 28 percent. "One thing is for sure," says Fabrizio. "After a Hillary-Rudy matchup, George Steinbrenner and the Yankees won't be the most hated New Yorkers anymore."

*sigh*

You people really need to get it through your heads right now... Hillary is not only not a viable candidate, she would be a worse choice than Bush. (I know, hard to picture, but...)

Rudy is a nice, moderate Republican, and if that's all that looks good on the plate, I'll take him without complaint. (Or too much complaining, anyway.) But we have better choices. Olympia Snowe and John McCain for the GOP would be top notch. (Possibly both on the ticket?) Frankly, I'm not sure who the Dems should run, but if he was up for it again, I'd go with Gore, believe it or not. He was the only one to beat Bush (*smirk*) and his re-tooled image sells very well. He was also fairly moderate, being from the Clinton camp, and quite intelligent. (Hey, the guy invented the .... ok, ok... I'll stop.) Seriously, you could do worse than Al. I would find a Gore vs. Snowe or Gore vs. Giuliani matchup to be exciting, promising an intriguing debate of the issues, and a good direction for America no matter who won.

Giving Bill Frist a Chance

posted by Jazz at 11/22/2004 07:54:00 AM

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I'm willing to, anyway. I was watching Bill Frist yesterday during his Meet the Press interview. The subject was brought up of the "indefensible" tax return measure in the omnibus bill.

"I have no earthly idea how it got in there," Frist said on CBS's "Face The Nation." "Nobody is going to defend this."

Frist also said that "accountability will be carried out" against whoever slipped the provision in. I'm not positive what that phrase is supposed to mean, but I'm still willing to give them some time to get it sorted.

This was snuck in by somebody, any you can call me a starry eyed optimist but I frankly don't think Bill Frist or a lot of other house Republicans knew about it. I'm not saying that I'd put it past any of our politicians, but I do think most of them are smart enough to know that they would never get away with it.

Let's give them a week or so to ask some questions and figure out where it really came from. Then the test will come and we'll find out if there will really be any accountability for such highjinks among the strong majority GOP reps, or if it will be swept under the rug.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Finally, something not depressing

posted by Jazz at 11/21/2004 11:23:00 AM

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Before I go watch a little football, here's something light hearted to cheer you up after Ron and I posted so much dark, ugly truth about Iraq and our electorate.

George W. Bush's Blog.

I was laughing for a good while. Found, courtesy of Quentin Tarantino's Diary.

Holy War

posted by Ron Beasley at 11/21/2004 09:42:00 AM

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As a follow up to Jazz's gloomy posts below I ask the question; how much of the suffering in Iraq is the Radical Christian Right responsible for? I had a post on an article by libertarian Paul Craig Roberts yesterday, Virtuous Violence. Although he discusses the policy of the Bush administration he has some rather harsh observations about the supporters of those policies.
Many Bush partisans send me e-mails fiercely advocating "virtuous violence." They do not flinch at the use of nuclear weapons against Muslims who refuse to do as we tell them. These partisans do not doubt for a second that Bush has the right to dictate to Muslims and everyone else (especially the French). Many also express their conviction that all of Bush's critics should be rounded up and sent to the Middle East in time for the first nuke.

These attitudes represent a sharp break from American values and foreign policy. The new conservatives have more in common with the Brownshirt movement that silenced German opposition to Hitler than with America's Founding Fathers.
"Reality Based" thinking would have to lead us to believe that the problem is the United States is much more than George W. Bush but is the result of a large percentage of the population who don't believe in science but do believe in a "Crusade" against the "non believers". Welcome to 16th century America.

Postcards from Hell

posted by Jazz at 11/21/2004 09:16:00 AM

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Aunt Najma, (Star from Mosul) has provided scans of some propaganda which is being dropped into the streets and on top of houses in her city.




This is the front of the paper. As translated by Najma, the text in Farsi reads, "They didn't think that we saw them, but those who work with al-Zarkawi are being watched."

On the back is this image and message:




This one translates to, "If you helped al-Zarkawi or his people, your house will be like this one"

Last time I checked, America was in 100% control of the airspace over Iraq. In other words, the total number of planes in Iraqi airspace at any given time which are not under our control and approval would be ... zero. So who is dropping these flyers on the homes in Baghdad and Iraq? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it's us.

Who exactly is running this dog and pony show? How many times do we have to hammer home the point about "winning the hearts and minds" if you truly desire any glimmer of a hope of success? (Assuming we can even agree on a definition of what would constitute success at this point.) Any possible upside to this sort of plan is so outweighed by the horrific negatives that it's shocking this even made it to the printer.

Assuming that you just might land some of these flyers on the homes of Iraqis who are truly assisting foreign terrorists, I think they are already well aware of how high the stakes are and the risks they face. But what about the tens of thousands of regular Iraqi citizens like Najma who receive them? What message does this send? "Toe the line or your home will look like this." Iraqi homes going up in flames is probably not the PR image you want to be leading with.

Staggering, staggering, staggering, mind blowing incompetence. If this is the best we can do, and apparently it is, then we are long past the point where we should just declare victory and go home.

Letters from the Farm

posted by Jazz at 11/21/2004 06:38:00 AM

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There's finally been a new entry at Iraqi Letter to America, after a week long hiatus while the author went to work on their farm outside the city. It's worth noting that this has traditionally been one of the more "pro-American" blogs, in terms of an author who seems to sincerely want to see a transition to a peaceful, representative democracy in his country. He is often quoted on Dean's World, Captain's Quarters and Mudville Gazette as an example of the Iraqis who want the terrorists, etc. out of his country. After Fallujah, however, it seems his opinions have changed.

The other thing is that I was really almost thrown off-balance by the Fallujah campaign. Although I was expecting such an outcome? yet, the grotesque scale of destruction, the total lack of any respect for human life, the short-sightedness of short-term policy gains at the expense of enormous long-term disasters, somehow leave me discouraged and depressed.

Less than an hour ago, I was listening to someone from the US army saying that he believed that the foreign fighters they were after had left Fallujah before the onslaught!!! Really!!


Well then, what was all that bombardment, killing and the leveling of a whole town about? Now we are told that Fallujah is no longer a safe haven for terrorists. Thank you very much. What about those 300,000 people many of whom are now homeless, and only God knows how many dead? Wasn't there another way to deal with that situation? I'm sure there are at least ten different ways to handle Fallujah's problem with much less "collateral damage". But the US administration and the Iraqi Interim government in their infinite wisdom had obviously decided that this was the best way. We are even told that there have been no civilian casualties in Fallujah!


Things aren't going very well out on the farm either. Some of his comments, while simple in nature, provide a snapshot of how things are in "regular Iraq" away from the TV cameras.

I went to the farm with the hope of clearing my head. The long walks, the good weather and the peace and quiet in the countryside this time of the year usually do wonders to my mood? but it was no use.

[Incidentally, there was not much to do at the farm. For the past 17 days, there was not a single minute of electricity. For the past six months, there was literally not a drop of water in the irrigation channel. No planting. The barley season is lost (as was the corn season before). The wheat season is unlikely!]

The entire entry is a long, thoughtful post on the future. The author seems to think that maybe it's time to let Iraq stand on its own feet.

I am becoming more convinced everyday that the US should leave Iraq as soon as possible. All those potential dangers of internal civil war and those threats from neighboring countries look almost tolerable in comparison to the criminal errors of judgment and incompetence displayed by this administration. I am almost certain that, left to our own devices, our losses would be less. Even the threat of terrorism to us and to the rest of the world would be less.

Look at the Moqtada episode for example. Recall all the bloodshed and the bombing of populated areas in Najaf and Sadr City and all the violence in Kut, Amarah, Nasireyyah and Basrah. Were there any foreign terrorists in Najaf? Was all that bombing and destruction and loss of life necessary? A sick old man, armed only with the respect of other people, worked out a compromise that, within a few days, took everybody back to square one! What did all that violence achieve? Bringing Moqtada to justice? Disarming and disbanding his army? If you think so, you are in mistaken.


How can I convince "super-patriot" Americans that the "cowboy methods" used by their administration have created worse problems than the ones they were supposed to solve.
These methods themselves are a major problem.


Sunday Morning Coming Down

posted by Jazz at 11/21/2004 05:18:00 AM

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On a sunday mornin' sidewalks

wishing Lord that I was stoned
'cause there is something in a sunday
that makes a body feel alone

And there's nothin' short of dyin'
half as lonesome as the sound
on the sleepin' city side walks
Sunday mornin' comin' down
- Kris Kristofferson


I was pretty much "off the grid" yesterday afternoon and evening for some much needed down time. Coming back to my seat at the blogging table, I see that Saturday was certainly a mess - at least over in Iraq. My first glance was at Ron's post below about Iraq coming unglued. It only took a few minutes of CNN Headline news while sipping my coffee to see that the ugly stories continued to multiply after Ron finished writing.

Apparently nine more Iraqis were found shot and decapitated beyond the four that the previous post mentioned. They were in Mosul. Roadside bombs, rocket attacks and small arms - RPG attacks on American patrols were the order of the day. Much of this activity, once again, was taking place in the primarily Sunni sections of the country.

In addition, it is now being reported that a large portion of American troops scheduled to finally come home, will once again have their deployments for the Iraqi occupation extended into next year.

Also yesterday, down in Chile at the APEC summit, as President Bush spoke to the meeting, thousands of people showed up to attack police lines, throwing rocks and fire bombs. Do you suppose that Bush ever notices how this happens everywhere he shows up?

Sorry if this post seems a bit dark. Just for once, I'd like to wake up and see a whole batch of good news. But for this week, at least, it looks like Sunday morning comin' down.

Food for thought

posted by Jazz at 11/21/2004 05:13:00 AM

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Without puling up Google in another window, answer the following question: What is the world's largest democracy?

(Insert Jeopary theme music here.)

If you said the United States of America.... bzzzzt. Wrong.

It's India. Just something to ponder today.